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  • Writer's pictureDeirdre May

Advance Care Directives, Living Wills. | Part Two

An Advance Care Directive (ACD) is a statement of your wishes and values which need to be considered before medical treatment decisions are made on you behalf, here are some frequently asked questions:

What kind of things can be written into my Advance Care Directive? All sorts of things! Your beliefs and values (I value my privacy. My life has meaning if I can practice my faith), physical or mental concerns (i.e I do not want to be in pain. I do not want to struggle to breath), other information (I would like to die at home. I want flowers in my room). Cultural, Spiritual, Social Care (i.e I would like classical music to be played around me. I want prayer, religious or other spiritual rituals).

I have spoken to my family, why put in writing? To make sure your wishes are properly recorded and remembered, have your ACD written. In New South Wales there is currently no specific form to use. Your family will take comfort in your written directions at an emotional time and will not wonder if they are making the decisions you would want.

When is it used? Your ACD can only be used if you are unable to make your own decisions (temporarily or permanently). Doctors and other health care professional will only look at your ACD if you are unable to communicate your decisions.

By following an ACD, is this like Euthanasia? Euthanasia (assisted dying) is illegal in New South Wales. You are not able to direct a doctor (or anyone else) to take active and deliberate steps to end your life. This is different from discontinuing or not starting treatment at your request through an ACD.

I want to donate my organs, how do I organise this? You can register on the Australian Organ Donor Register. Let your family know your thoughts on organ and tissue donation.

Where do I keep my ACD so the right people will find it when needed? Somewhere it can be found easily! Keep a card in your wallet or notice on the fridge which lets people know that you have an ACD, details of where to find it and the contact details of your substitute decision maker. You could keep a copy with your personal papers at home, with your medications and provide copies to your Enduring Guardian, doctor and solicitor.



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